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Destroying ankle bracelet lands man back in jail

A man who ripped off his ankle bracelet because he didn’t want to put up with electronic monitoring during his probation may be going right back to the prison he just got out of.

Eric L. Hargis, of Catlettsburg, Ky., was sent to prison in 2005 after pleading guilty to attempt to commit felonious assault. He was granted judicial release earlier this year, but placed on community controlled sanctions, or probation, with electronic home monitoring. At a hearing Wednesday in Lawrence County Common Pleas Court, Hargis’ Assistant Lawrence County Prosecutor Brigham Anderson said Hargis recently cut off his bracelet and fled to West Virginia, where he committed other crimes, also a violation of his probation.

“We intend to ask for an indictment on an escape charge when the grand jury meets next,” Anderson said.

Anderson asked for a $250,000 cash bond for Hargis. But Hargis’ attorney, Warren Morford, asked for “a more reasonable bond.” Bowling said in this instance, he did not think Ohio law required him to set a bond. The judge accepted Anderson’s request and set the $250,000 cash bond pending the outcome of a trial for the probation violation.

Also Wednesday, two men accused of stealing a tanker truck from the Decatur Township Volunteer Fire Department entered guilty pleas. Jeremy J. Basham, 34, of Jackson, and Courtney J. Fisher, 40, of Waverly, appeared together before Judge Charles Cooper, and each pleaded guilty to one count of grand theft and one count of tampering with evidence. Cooper asked each man a list of questions about whether they voluntarily chose to waive their right to a trial and then accepted their pleas. Both men will be sentenced Oct. 15, following a pre-sentence investigation.

Troy Earles, 35, of 815 First St., Chesapeake, was sentenced to a total of four years in prison and fined $15,000 for convictions in three separate complaints. Earles pleaded guilty on a bill of information to theft by deception charges. He had earlier pleaded guilty to two separate indictments, one containing three counts of trafficking in drugs and one count of corrupting another with drugs and had also pleaded guilty to an indictment containing two counts of misuse of a credit card.

Cooper ordered Earles to also pay $11, 228 in restitution to Big Sandy Furniture and $ 4,359.45 in restitution to 84 Lumber. He must report to authorities Sept. 22.

“I’m sorry,” Earles told Cooper.

In another case Wednesday, Elizabeth Johnson, 63, of 611 Mulberry St., pleaded guilty to seven counts of complicity to aggravated trafficking in drugs. Bowling sentenced her to four years community controlled sanctions and ordered her to successfully complete a rehabilitation program at a community based correctional facility (CBCF).

“This is a situation where several people were selling drugs out of their house, causing a lot of trouble for the neighborhood, many of whom complained about it,” Lawrence County Prosecutor J.B. Collier Jr. said.

Johnson’s attorney, Tyler Smith, said Johnson is already getting help for her addiction problem. Johnson told Bowling she was remorseful about what she had done.

“I’m very sorry, if there has been any harm to the community,” she said. “No one knows better than I do now what drugs can do. It’s destroyed my whole family. I’m sorry.”

Johnson must also surrender her driver’s license for six months.

Michael S. Bamer, 45, of 1746 Thomas St., Ironton, pleaded guilty to one count of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and no contest to one count of failure to comply with the order and signal of a police officer.

Cooper sentenced Bamer to one year in prison, fined him $1,500 and ordered him to pay $200 in restitution to the owner of the car he hit during the incident. The $200 is the amount of repairs not covered by insurance.

Brian Kitts, 24, of 2606 County Road 144, South Point, pleaded guilty to a three-count drug indictment. Bowling sentenced him to four years CCS/ISP and ordered him to successfully complete an in-house drug treatment program at New Beginnings in Pike County. Kitts must also pay a $10,000 fine and surrender his driver’s license one year.

“I appreciate the understanding and consideration you’ve given to Mr. Kitts,” Kitts’ attorney, Sterling Gill , said. “His mother is here in the courtroom and she appreciates your consideration, too.”

Bowling told Kitts he hoped he indeed complete his treatment program.

“You’ve got three years (in prison) hanging over your head of you fail,” Bowling said.